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Imperial Envoys’ Tours of Inspection and Charlemagne’s Governance of the Empire

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.8, 2017

 

Imperial Envoys’ Tours of Inspection and Charlemagne’s Governance of the Empire

(Abstract)

 

Li Yunfei

 

During Charlemagnes reign, imperial envoys tours of inspection had become an important institution of the Carolingian Empire as a result of the three overlapping factors of large-scale territorial expansion, a decline in tours of inspection by the Emperor, and growing peace in the empire. Imperial envoys’ inspection tours expanded to include subservient kingdoms and border areas outside core imperial territory. Courtiers and local elites were an important source for the imperial envoys. Although they seldom severely punished local magnates such as counts, the imperial envoys’ tours of inspection doubtless strengthened the central government’s control over the localities, increased the obligations of local dignitaries, and checked the neglect of duty or misconduct of some high officials. In recent years, foreign scholars have tended to underestimate the historical role of imperial envoys’ tours of inspection during Charlemagne’s reign. We should give careful thought to this issue and exercise wise discrimination.